Jeppson’s Malört gets a pretty bad rap. The locally famous brand of bäsk brännvin has long been the butt of jokes by Chicagoans. Its strange taste is widely regarded as gross, and local drinkers treat it as more of a novelty or a way to prank their friends rather than a pleasant means of intoxication. Malört’s label famously says that only one in 49 drinkers will keep consuming the liqueur after the first “shock-glass,” but it also states that if you make it past the first two shots, you’ll be hooked on the stuff for life.
I’m one of those hooked drinkers. Sure, Malört doesn’t compare to a glass of good whiskey, but it certainly doesn’t deserve the ridicule that it frequently receives. Chicagoans need to stop saying that it’s a gross drink—it’s goddamn amazing. Here's why:
Malört is more palatable than most well shots
Okay, let’s be real. You’re never going to order a shot and expect it to taste great. Well whiskey, vodka and tequila all tend to taste like paint thinner. Even if you’re not a fan of its aftertaste (which is a lot like licorice mixed with gasoline), a shot of Malört at least tastes interesting. Once your palate has familiarized itself with the Jeppson’s concoction, it becomes downright pleasant. It’s also only 70 proof. Ingesting slightly less alcohol could go a long way in saving you from having a painful hangover at work.
It’s pretty much only available in Chicago
Taking a shot of Malört is a salute to the generations of Chicago bar patrons that have come before you. Granted, the booze isn’t made in Chicago anymore (it’s been made in Florida since the ’70s), but it’s hard to find a bottle anywhere outside of Chicago. Finding it at a bar on either coast is like spotting a unicorn. I found a shot of it in San Francisco earlier this fall, and the bartender shook my hand. Drinking Malört isn’t just a rite of passage—it’s a nod of respect to the hardworking Chicagoans who built the best-planned city on Earth.
Malört is just as much a medicine as it is an intoxicant
A lot of shots will leave your esophagus feeling like it’s on fire. Malört, on the other hand, is soothing on the tummy. It was originally used to cure indigestion and nausea, which makes sense considering that its key ingredient is wormwood (Malört is the Swedish word for the plant). In Europe, wormwood is traditionally used for medicinal purposes. If you ever downed a half a bottle of the booze in a single night, you'll find that the next day’s hangover is all but absent due to the presence of the funky herb.
Chicagoans, I’m begging you to stop talking smack about Malört and start smiling at its presence. It’s the best cheap shot you’ll ever have the privilege of consuming.